The first cohort of Columbia Business School (CBS)’s pilot Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness for the United States (EC-America) program began on Wednesday, Jan. 18th, 2023. Consisting in 4 days of intensive classes with an emphasis on growth and expansion, Module I of the program took place in person at CBS’ Manhattanville campus in New York.

In order to foster a culture of continuous improvement and idea innovation, accepted companies across the United States will participate in the program in teams of 2 to 3. The total number of program participants include 33 founders and key executives from 12 companies based in Arizona, California, Washington DC, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas. The cohort spans multiple industries, including advertising, agriculture, apparel, food & beverage, footwear, education, facilities management, packaging, and raw materials distribution.

During the first module, 7 members of CBS faculty imparted classes across various areas of business, such as Entrepreneurial Strategy, Leadership, Negotiations, Operations Strategy, and Change Implementation, and participants heard on the methodology for their first capstone project to devise a Business Growth Plan under the strategic guidance of their assigned MBA student consultants.

Guest speakers included Juan Ramón Alaix, Former CEO of Zoetis, Sarah Kugelman, Founder and CEO of the Pink Factor and Co-founder, Former CEO, and Former President of, and Alice Rodriguez, Former Chair at the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC). Additionally, each team was able to give a brief overview of their company’s profile and the goals they hoped to achieve over the course of this next year and beyond.

Unique to this program, EC-America aims to celebrate Hispanic-owned businesses through the addition of one class per module given on Hispanic heritage. To this end, José Moya, Professor of History at Barnard College, gave a class entitled “History of Latinos in the United States.”

With the goal of creating networking opportunities and continuing relationships among the '23-24 class, a welcome cocktail with words by Adam Galinsky, Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at CBS, was held on Wednesday, Jan. 18th, and a group dinner was held on Friday, Jan. 20th, before the module’s end on the evening of Saturday, Jan. 21st.

Module II of the EC-America program will take place online over the course of Spring 2023, and program participants will return to the CBS campus for the completion of Module III from June 12th-20th.

For more information on Module I's entrepreneurs, faculty, speakers, and other activities, please find a report here.